Quick Fix for a User Continually Prompted for Password

Here’s the situation: A Windows 7 user on an Active Directory Domain is getting prompts to enter their password every time they try to access the Internet.

What could be going on? Has something changed in the corporate firewall? Did their permissions get corrupted in Active Directory?

Before you go digging too far, try checking for this quick fix. Go to Control Panel → Credential Manager. See any saved credentials under Windows Credentials? If so, that’s most likely the user’s problem. Delete any saved credentials you see. Users really shouldn’t be saving their credentials, anyway. Note that, if your company actually uses saved credentials, then you’ll need to be more discerning in what you remove.

So, what could have gotten the user into this situation? In my case, the problematic user was one with an assigned password. When their password was changed as part of our normal password-change schedule, they neglected to log off of their computer. Their computer eventually figured out that their old password was no longer valid, and prompted them for their new password. When it did, the user entered a valid set of credentials for a local account on their computer, instead of their domain account. Then, they checked the option to “Remember my credentials”.

From that point forward, their computer would try to use these local credentials every time they tried to access the Internet. The company firewall requires a domain-authenticated account to validate the user’s access. So, the local credentials would fail, and the user would then be prompted for their domain account. They could then enter their domain credentials to gain access, but that would only authenticate that single request. The end result was a continuous stream of password prompts as they browsed the Net. This behavior continued even after the user restarted their computer and logged in with their updated domain credentials.

I had seen similar issues in the past, so it was a quick fix. Those who haven’t dealt with similar issues may not be so lucky. Go ahead and lock this bit of info away in some distant region of your memory. It might just come in handy someday…